Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Discussion on OO, and O gauge garden model railway design and construction. (scenery, track laying, electronics)
Giraffe
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Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby Giraffe » Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:51 pm

Hi all, looking for some advice on techniques for building outdoor railways. I've got kind-of permission to build a small railway in my parents' garden, but really need some kind of plan before any final approval is granted from parents or wife (WAF is definitely very low on this project).

What is settled: It will be OO gauge so that I can reuse my locos/rolling stock/power controllers and some track (points and larger radius curves are nickel silver, straights and innermost radius curves are older steel - however, considering just buying small amount of flexi track instead of replacing the set track). The reason for this is to keep the costs down to bare minimum. If I could build this without spending anything and reusing all my old components then it would be disapproved of slightly less, but I know that's not going to be possible. I might be able to convince Dad to get the concrete or something.

So, my stumbling blocks that research is currently not answering are mostly down to two things: trackbed and power.

Trackbed:
This is going to be a ground level track running through flower beds, so not talking about raised trackbeds.
Various approaches I've read about:
Concrete base - rubber tiles/strips of wood embedded along the top surface for attaching track to.
Wooden base - how to site securely in the soil? Should there be a concrete layer lower down from which wooden posts come up, as with fence posts, and then the track bed is nailed to that at ground level?
Any other approaches?

Power: (this will be DC - not even going to suggest the cost of DCC conversion (WAF is already negative, remember? :wink: ))
Mains power in the garden is obviously a pretty big no.
So, how to supply power to the track. I'm thinking at the moment to have the transformer inside and run 12V cables out there somehow. Is this a case of a hole in the wall with a box either side? I'd like this to be a permanent installation, so throwing an extension cable out of the window isn't something I'm considering.
Where should the controller be situated? Can it be outside? How would it be weatherproofed? Is radio control with the circuitry inside an option? Are there packaged solutions to this or would it involve some self construction of the electronics? (This isn't an issue, anything that went beyond my skill level I could get my brother to help out on, who's an electronic engineer)


Any useful experience people could pass on to a complete outdoor noob like myself? Cheers!

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boyofbears
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby boyofbears » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:53 am

dont use steal track!!!

serioulsy it will rust meaning any you put down will have to be replaced, its best to use nickel silver track, and for curves i would reccomend flexi track on a garden railway, or as big a radius curve you can get.
my imaginery friend thinks u have problems.......wait........
my layout viewtopic.php?f=22&t=17368 new!!!

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Infrontcat
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby Infrontcat » Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:12 am

Hi fella

The simple rule is...er...keep it simple! ;) It all depends on how quickly or easy you want construction to be and, obviously, how simple the track plan is going to be.

I'd suggest that you take a couple of photos ofthe proposed site in question, 'cos then we might be able to better make definite suggestions. Mine is at hip level because I didn't want to be bending over and bending down all the time, plus I don't have to crick my neck to watch the trains :) However, if you just want it at ground level, you can keep the technicality of the construction to a minimum by using a treated wood deck on supporting posts or similar. Just make sure that the posts are solidly founded.

It's all about common sense and not treating each problem as a traumatic crisis. I get endless comments about "Oh my god, but what if it rains," ya-di-ya-di-ya, but it's no big deal, trust me. Feel free to have a butchers at my thread if it helps you any (Though I confess, this year I've done pretty much naff all on my layout :) )

Cheers, PM me if you want

Tim
"Kashi-mashi, kashi-mashi..."

Moorcroft (St Anthonys)

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Andy316
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby Andy316 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:37 pm

Hiya,

There are people around here that have used wood, concrete and concrete/rubber bases.
My garden has had clay soild not too far down so I've put treated posts in using "postcrete" redi-mixed concrete. Dig the hole, put in the post, tip in the dry postcrete, they poor in water, the whole thing sets in minutes.
Then I've used treated timber and deckboards for the base, with roofing felt on the top. (see Newstead road thread).

I agree with the previous comment, DON't use steel track.
I bought 2 boxes of cheap nickel silver flexi track. It's not Peco but it's fine for what I wanted.


For the transormer....

Put all the 240 Volt wiring inside. Then you can run the 12 volt lines outside permanently/semi permanently.
I use DCC with an Infrared wireless controller. (although It can be a problem in bright sunlight).

A good source of info are books, I have these.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Garden-Railways-Essential-Guide-Construction/dp/0955411041/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219061818&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Garden-Railway-Manual-Step-step/dp/1852604654/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219061818&sr=8-2

If you're short on funds, try your library, they may be able to get them for you if they're not on the shelves.
Of course, you can post more questions here...
Hey, it's my railway, I'll run what I want.

Giraffe
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby Giraffe » Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:08 am

Thanks for all your replies, but it looks like the garden railway isn't going to happen. :( Relocating the plans to the loft.

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cantmodelwontmodel
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby cantmodelwontmodel » Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:30 pm

As regards the power I have seen small boxes with a waterproof lid that you just open up to use containing the transformers and controllers


If a permanent garden railway is a no no what about building it in sections as a removable layout if the trackwork is divided up onto say half a dozen boards which can be stored when not in use ?
Ed

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87 101
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby 87 101 » Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:56 pm

I think most of the basics have been covered here but to recap. Dont use steel track outdoors. When I first laid the track at the branch terminus in my garden I accidently used an old hornby point. That lasted a couple of days. Set track outdoors again try to avoid. Flexi looks more relistic, is easer to work with and one of the main reasons for going outdoors is space so why stick with small radius curves? Allow expansion joints when laying track and solder link wires across the joints. Fishplates dont last long outside! Take time when building the trackbase. Why do somthing twice! Power supply. Keep mains voltage indoors. Voltage drop. Some people think that you need to run thick cables out to the track at various points to run the trains. Because on my layout I have link wires across the track joins voltage drop is not that much an issue. Be prepared for a lot of hard work ie, mixing concrete in a wheel barrow and dont expect to achive much in a small space of time. 00 gauge garden railways are very rewarding but do take a while to finish if done properly. Mine has been under construction for two 1/2 years now and still no ware near finished. Here's a tip.... My railway started life as a short section of mainline that ran behind the rockery so costs were kept low. As I already had a box of flexi my inital cost was sand, cement, balast. I could have used ready mixed but it is a lot cheeper to make your own. Building a small section tests all the construction methords needed and will also see if you have the will power to see the project to the end! For further information check out taw vales website or my website that is shortly to be updated. Also highly recomended is the model rail DVD. :wink:

guinnesskid
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby guinnesskid » Tue May 11, 2010 8:12 pm

Are there any major drawbacks to soldering outside? I thought that on anything but a bright sunny day I might have trouble keeping the tip of the iron hot enough. also if I am going to solder wire across the track joins will I need to run additional feeds to the track. My track plan involves two 24ft x 10ft ovals plus sidings?
I'm thinking of becoming an alcoholic - It's cheaper than N gauging and not quite as taxing on my brain.

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TVGR
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby TVGR » Wed May 26, 2010 12:13 am

Soldering jump leads from rail to rail is not a problem at all, I always found it to be simple enough, and the heat was never a probem upon soldering. However, as this is the great outdoors, the one thing I always found to be a problem, was over time the solder may expand and contract in the highs and lows of temperature change, and so may become lose and loose contact to the nickle silver rails. Usually means having to resolder at the start of the season in some areas of your trackplan. :)

As for the extra feeds, In my opinion, I'd test the layout without extra feeds, see if there are any sudden power drops, then think about extra feeds.

Hope that helps :)

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thomas the plank engine
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby thomas the plank engine » Wed May 26, 2010 6:52 am

Patience Patience Patience,
Rome was not built in a day and neither will your garden railway. The GGR has been up and running now for 4 years (that long) but has taken nearly twice that long to get it to the state that its in now (no jokes Mirrlees), and constant maintenance is required if you want to have good running sessions. Still got to do a few of the jobs that others have already mentioned, but its a great learning curve and the sight of your first train going around is well worth the effort

Image

My first train around the GGR, and it sure did raise a few comments (never understood Anoraks and Rivet Counters)

Ian

guinnesskid
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby guinnesskid » Wed May 26, 2010 7:37 am

Have managed to get the first loop out and had a 7 coach inter-city running round it. My wife thinks I'm mad but she got a 16 x 8 decking and a small pool out of the deal. I've had no problems with power but found the rails have to be cleaned before running even when it is used day after day. As you say it is a learning curve. Do they do a re railer for OO gauge? the carriages are a pain in the butt when the track is at ground level and you're not.
I'm thinking of becoming an alcoholic - It's cheaper than N gauging and not quite as taxing on my brain.

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thomas the plank engine
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby thomas the plank engine » Wed May 26, 2010 8:42 am

Any decent railway model shop should have a re-railer in stock, but as you have noticed the most of us that model in 00 out in the garden now do it on a higher level, because as you get older its a lot harder to get down and then up again.
Darren who had/has 'Taw Vale' running around his garden knows what I mean
Infrontcat like me has made it so that we can sit down and view our trains at eye level, plus its a lot easier to re rail stock if accidents happen.
There is only one serious disadvantage running at a higher level, and that is that if rolling stock decides that it wants to hit ground level then exspect some damage to occur as the drop in scale size is rather BIG

Ian

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87 101
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby 87 101 » Wed May 26, 2010 10:03 pm

You will find that the track outside will need a fair bit of cleaning but that is all part of the great outdoors! I find that summers usualy worse with all the pollan floating around. Heres a tip that works for me and that is to use an old vac cleaner on the trackbed before an operation session as the moving trains disturb all the muck and dust around the track and it ends up on the rails. :wink:

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TVGR
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby TVGR » Wed May 26, 2010 10:43 pm

Another tip that I always found to work quite well, was the use of Meths and a rag.... Strange as that might sound, before each running session, usually very early on a summers morning, I'd give the track a good clean with a peco track rubber, to get the yellow residue off, then I'd dab a little bit of methalated spirits on a rag (Yellow Duster) wipe it around the track (you'll be amazed at the black grime thats picked up) then run my models, and every so often wipe the rag around again. Saves track rubber costs, and actually does a better job I found, as the track rubber tends to leave rubber behind and ends up on your wheels :)

Worked for me, and various other modellers I know use the same technique :wink:

guinnesskid
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Re: Garden Railway Basic Techniques

Postby guinnesskid » Thu May 27, 2010 7:52 am

Thanks for the tips guys. New St Paddy's due to arrive today courtesy of the Liverpool shop. Hope the weeather stays fine long enough for me to give it a whirl round the track tonight.
I'm thinking of becoming an alcoholic - It's cheaper than N gauging and not quite as taxing on my brain.


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